There is nothing more squeaky and Sudburian than cheese curds from Nickel City Cheese.
It’s hard to believe the curd factor only opened in Chelmsford in 2018 as the product is already so widely circulated.
Nicole Paquin, the owner and operator, opened the factory with her husband and three sons on Regional Road 15 because she felt Sudbury was lacking its own local fresh curds.
“We learned by watching YouTube for our first batch. From there, we visited Guelph University to learn more. We even took courses in Montreal with a cheesemaker from France,” Nicole said about their learning process.
Paquin, who is originally from Quebec, moved to Chelmsford in 1991. With her roots on the shores of Lake Témiscamingue at Saint-Bruno-de-Guigues, she knows the value of cheese and its byproduct, poutine.
Paquin worked as a clerk reporter for the government for many years and wanted a backup plan and something more permanent.
In just four years, her family’s curds are now found at Your Independent Grocer stores, Giant Tiger locations, Food Basics locations, Smith’s Market locations and gas stations reaching to the watershed at Gogama, Dubreuilville, Smithville, Verner, North Bay, Espanola, Elliot Lake and Sault Ste. Marie.
Nickel City Cheese now relies on 14 employees and requires 3,500 litres of milk per day for constant curd production.
Paquin said milk is delivered from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, which secures milk from Manitoulin Island and stretches over to farms in Verner and Noelville.
The curds can be purchased plain but many enjoy those featuring different seasonings.
Paquin said the most popular flavours are dill pickle, barbeque and, for people who like hot and spicy, Frank’s Red Hot sauce and a jalapeno blend.
“The feedback from customers has been great. Many have tried St. Albert and Thornloe curds, and prefer ours. They are closer to home and more milky tasting is what they say,” Nicole said.
She said a lot of customers visit the shop on a weekly basis but she is always surprised at how many from Sudbury are coming for the first time and didn’t know the shop existed.
The family has recently added some other seasonal options for patrons including a chipstand featuring poutine made with the curds and a mini donut shack.
Just this month, there is a new product that has hit the market. Tortillon cheese is made from pasteurized milk and perfect for those who love a salty cheese to pair with wine or beer.
“One lady came in and bought eight bags of tortillon. She said she goes all over Quebec and Ontario and this is the best variety she has tasted,” Paquin said
In order to expand its reach outside Ontario and to big chain stores, Nickel City Cheese has applied for federal licensing. They are one year into the plan and a site visit took place two months ago with representatives from the federal government.
Nicole said the property was bought for agricultural purposes, but they are already running out of space in four short years, so they are taking the interest and their love for cheese one day and one squeaky curd at a time.
The storefront is open 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. It’s also open Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can contact the store directly at 705-969-1643.
Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.